Brake Finder

How Do You Know When Brake Pads Need Changing

Brake pads can be mysterious, but to ensure your safety, you need to understand when they should be changed.

If you know what a scrub pad looks like, then a brake pad is a steel version. Visualize a 2- or 3-inch square pad, like a kitchen sponge, made up of a steel backing plate with brake pad friction material bonded to one side.

How Brake Pads Work

The current brake pad system has been around for decades, and the engineering has been perfected. Vehicle manufacturers get the brake systems right.

Brake pads sit inside the caliper and surround a disk of steel called the rotor. When you push down the brake pedal, the caliper pistons squeeze the brake pads against both sides of the rotor. The friction between the pads and the rotor is strong enough to stop a vehicle.

How to Tell When Brake Pads Need Replacing

Because brake pads are hidden behind the wheels and tires, manufacturers created many ways to signal when they need to be replaced. Before electronics and information centers, you had to listen and feel the brake pads wearing out.

Brake Pads Communication Systems

Feel the brakes

The driver had to feel that the brakes were no longer stopping the vehicle as usual.

The stopping distance would get longer as the brakes wore down.

It would become obvious the brakes needed to be checked.


One innovative solution riveted a steel bracket, called a squeaker, along the edge of the pad.

The squeaker was as long as 20% of the friction material depth. When the brake pad material wore down to the bracket and the brake pedal engaged, the bracket would scrape along the side of the rotor and make a terrible noise.
Apply the brakes and hear the noise. Release the brake, the noise stopped. The noise signaled it was time to replace the pads.

Electronic Sensors

These older methods were replaced with electronic sensors on each wheel.
The sensors act as an electronic squeaker. When the friction material wears out, the sensor hits the side of the rotor, lighting up a red warning light on the dashboard.

New systems have the same electronic sensor but show a brake warning message in the information system directly in front of you.

If you drive an older vehicle without the electronic aids, you have to listen to the brakes.

Turn down the radio and the heater/AC fan. Roll down your window and listen when you apply the brakes. You shouldn’t hear any noise if the brakes are functioning correctly.

If you hear brake noise, inspect your brakes immediately and replace the brake pads, if necessary.

About Goodyear Brakes

Goodyear Brakes manufactures premium quality brake bundles, calipers, rotors, brake pads and all the hardware required to successfully install brakes, all backed by a national warranty, decades of production experience and one of the best-known names in automotive excellence. The brake pads are manufactured in the USA using a proprietary green production process by a company with more than 50 years of experience in friction science. The Goodyear Brakes product line is available through Goodyear Brakes at Amazon, CarID, Buy Brakes and AutoAnything.

Goodyear (and Winged Foot Design) and Blimp Design are trademarks of The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company used under license by FDP Virginia Inc., 1076 Airport Road, Tappahannock, VA 22560, USA. Copyright 2020 The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company. Goodyear Brakes and FDP Virginia are not responsible for its products when they are subjected to improper applications, installation, or accident.


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Brake Pads: How to Change

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